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While most of the country is focused on the upcoming presidential elections, Georgetown students participated in their own election this week to select a new crop of student representatives for GUSA’s senate.

The student association election results were announced to candidates last night in Sellinger Lounge (see box). The new senators were originally supposed to be announced Wednesday night, but the announcement was pushed back 24 hours because the e-mail with the voting links, which was sent out on Monday night, did not reach students until Tuesday at around 5:00 p.m.

73 students ran for 36 seats in the GUSA Senate this fall. One district, Upper Henle, remains empty, but is expected to be filled

in the next few weeks.

Seven of last year’s senators were re-elected and three others were defeated for re-election.

GUSA Senator Reggie Greer (COL ’09) said the defeated former senators will likely serve in an advisory capacity this year. “That’s the great thing about GUSA,” he said, “that we are able to work with people who aren’t necessarily on the senate.”

Sophia Behnia (COL ’09), the GUSA election commissioner, explained that instead of rushing to get all of the ballots in, GUSA decided to push the announcement back one day.

Students cast ballots using Instant Runoff Voting, the same system that was used in last year’s election for GUSA president, the results of which were ultimately rejected by the Senate and led to a new election.

Greer said that, despite the problems IRV caused in last year’s presidential election, the election commission was not concerned about using it in this year’s senate election.

“It works better for senate elections than it does for the presidential election,” Greer said. “We haven’t had any problems with it in the past for senate elections, and we didn’t expect to have any problems and we were right.”

He added that the election commission has not yet decided whether IRV will be used in this year’s president election.

Last year, D.W. Cartier (COL ’09) and Andrew Rugg (COL ’09) would have won the first election with 51.2 percent of the vote after seven runoffs, followed closely by Patrick Dowd (SFS ’09) and James Kelly (COL ’09), with 48.8 percent. After the second election, Dowd and Kelly, who lost the first election, won with 54 percent of the vote and were declared the winners.

Under the IRV system, voters rank candidates in order of preference. If no candidate receives a majority of the first-place votes, the ticket that receives the lowest number of votes in that round is eliminated, and its votes are redistributed to the remaining candidates based on what the voter indicated as his or her second choice. This process continues, with votes for eliminated candidates being redistributed based on the voter’s next choice, until one candidate receives a majority.

Behnia said she was pleased with the voter turnout, especially from first-year students and those living off campus. The off-campus district had the highest turnout, she noted.

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